CIOs take wish list to Congress

Interoperability and Stage 2 among biggest concerns
By Erin McCann
02:19 PM

National Health IT Week kicked off in Washington, DC, this September mobilizing throngs of industry health IT leaders, who brought their concerns and recommendations to Capitol Hill. Among their requests? Interoperability standards and Stage 2 reporting flexibility.

Marc Probst – Intermountain Healthcare

Intermountain Healthcare CIO Marc Probst was among those speaking on Capitol Hill, calling for adopting interoperability standards and a 90-day reporting period with Stage 2 meaningful use.

With regards to interoperability standards, Probst admitted that introducing new standards wouldn't be an easy or inexpensive task – but an altogether necessary one. 

To further illustrate his point of why standards need to be created, Probst pointed to the case of gauge railroad standardization. The ability for different regions and countries to run cars over the same railroad required that the gauge be the same, which often wasn't the case in the mid-1800s. 

Think about any country, Probst explained, who had to say, "Oh, we've got to go to a standard. We're going to have to trash a whole bunch of cars that don't meet that standard; we're going to have to go buy a whole bunch of new ones, and we're gonna have to lay all this new rail," he said. "Someone had to suck it up and say, 'That was worth it for the benefit of being able to move things throughout that country better.' That's fundamentally what we're saying, is we've got to sit down and say, ‘what’s the standard, and how are we gonna move it?'"

Randy McCleese, St. Claire Regional Medical Center

Randy McCleese, CIO at St. Claire Regional Medical Center in rural Kentucky, joined Probst in asking Congress for a 90-day meaningful use reporting period.

"We're at a point that the things that we're trying to do," he said, "it's pushing us over the edge to get to that point." The requirements, he added, require a "tremendous amount of effort and resources that we would prefer to go to patient care." Specifically, he continued, the transitions of care requirements are "tremendous."

Bill Bria, MD – The HCI Group

Bill Bria, MD, chief medical information officer of The HCI Group, served as the voice representing physician stakeholders in a Capitol Hill briefing Bria is also the president of the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems.

"It's past time that the American public is brought into this informatics revolution," said Bria. If he could ask Congress for anything? Creativity should be incentivized by the federal government, and there should be a reinvestment into new ways of tackling health IT. "Why wouldn't we in fact advocate very strongly for reinvestment in new approaches that in fact we've learned what's going on over the past 10 years?"